Why should I avoid sexual activity before a PSA test?

Ejaculation (when semen is released from a man’s penis during sexual activity) 48 hours prior to the test can cause PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels to rise temporarily, which may affect the test results.

If you need a PSA test, you may therefore be asked to avoid sexual activity for two days before the test.

You may also be advised to avoid vigorous physical activity, such as cycling or running, for two days before a PSA test as this can cause a temporary rise in PSA levels.

What is PSA?

PSA is a protein made by a man’s prostate gland (a small gland in the pelvis between the penis and bladder).

What are PSA tests?

PSA tests are used to measure the level of PSA in a man’s blood. A raised level of PSA can be a sign of a prostate condition, such as:

For more information, see Why aren’t all men given a PSA test?

Digital rectal examinations and PSA levels

If you also need a digital rectal examination (DRE) – another way to diagnose problems with your prostate gland, this should be done either:

  • after your PSA test
  • at least one week before your PSA test

During the DRE the healthcare professional will insert their finger into your anus. This can put pressure on your prostate gland, which can increase the level of PSA.

Prostate surgery and PSA levels

If you're having any kind of surgery to your prostate gland, such as a biopsy to take a tissue sample, this can also increase your PSA levels. Your PSA test should therefore be carried out either:

  • before the surgery
  • at least six weeks afterwards

Read the answers to more questions about operations, tests and procedures.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 05/02/2013

Next review due: 04/02/2015